Meet Dr. Julen Etxabe, Canada Research Chair in Jurisprudence and Human Rights


Assistant Professor Julen Etxabe

We are fortunate to be welcoming some new faces to Allard Hall this fall as well as some familiar ones into new roles. Over the coming weeks, you’ll learn more about each of these faculty members and the important research and educational leadership expertise they bring to the Allard School of Law community.

Assistant Professor Julen Etxabe thinks that the contemporary age, marked as it is by deep normative pluralism, requires a rethink of some foundational legal questions—such as how we understand legal judgement, and what constitutes a good judgement. His innovative research focuses on the area of international human rights law, where judicial opinions increasingly borrow from an open-ended body of comparative and international sources. According to Professor Etxabe, the plurality of legal materials at play has had a profound impact on the entire activity of legal judgement, transforming inherited notions of legal authority, legal reasoning and the rule of law more generally. And, if properly understood, the practices of judgement in this setting may offer a new and more fruitful model of judgement.

“I think that judges, like the rest of us, are engaged in wider conversations that doctrinal analysis is not well-equipped to capture,” says Professor Etxabe. “When looking at judicial practice from a certain angle, the need for judges to be more inclusive or ‘democratic’ in their judgments has become paramount. But new tools and methods of interpretation are needed if we are to realize their potential.”

These are just some of the issues he looks forward to exploring further as the newly named Canada Research Chair in Jurisprudence and Human Rights.

Prior to joining UBC, Professor Etxabe was a Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki. He’s also taught at the University of Michigan, where he received both his SJD and LLM. Professor Etxabe also earned an LLM from the European Academy of Legal Theory in Belgium and a Licentiate degree in law from the University of the Basque Country Law School in San Sebastian.

Professor Etxabe has travelled the globe as a visiting scholar, including Reed College in Portland Oregon, the Australian National University College of Law and Southern Cross University in Australia, and Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis in Brussels.

Last year, Professor Etxabe came to Allard Hall as a visiting scholar where he gave a lecture on transnational judicial dialogue and its effects in the courtroom and on judgements.

What brought Professor Etxabe back to UBC?

“It was the opportunity to work in a fantastic environment surrounded by a welcoming and open-minded group of colleagues, said Professor Etxabe. “I’m looking forward to connecting with students from many parts of the world and being able to be creative and spark a sense of excitement for what we can learn in the classroom.”

Learn more about Dr. Julen Etxabe.